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The Whole Note
“Juris Ābols – Xeniae Latvian Radio Choir; Sigvards Klava LMIC SKANI 140 ( ! When encountering a piece of music for the first time, the brain begins searching for general thematic similarities: is this like Bach or Black Sabbath; Monteverdi or Miles Davis? While this “compare and contrast” method works well for most music, occasionally a listener is confronted by a single work that contains such a vast synthesis of styles that it is both disorienting and astonishing; such is the case with Juris Ābols’ opera Xeniae. From the very first movement of this opera, we are introduced to a staggering tapestry of eras and references, including early-Baroque recitative accompanied by guitar and smooth jazz. As improbable as this may seem, the effect is both successful and addictive, for as we make our way through this staggering work, we can never guess what comes next, and this propels us forward with eager anticipation. There is, perhaps, no parallel to Xeniae in the world of classical music, for the breadth of material is simply too diverse, and it is rather similar in a number of ways to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. What cannot be overstated is just how impressive the performance of the Latvian Radio Choir and its director Sigvards Kļava is on this recording, especially considering that the entire opera was recorded in the basement of Kļava’s home. Although an unknown name to many, Ābols makes a tremendous impact with Xeniae, and proves that he is one of the 21st century’s most eclectic and exciting composers. This disc is highly recommended, not only to those who favor classical music, but to those who appreciate any music, for there truly is something here for everyone. Matthew Whitfield”
MusicWeb International
“Néstor Castiglione That Cage delighted in provoking audiences—many of whom now expect serious music to be nothing more than elegant sonic wallpaper (or, worse, aural ideological screeds)—is undoubtable, but his mischief concealed his seriousness of purpose. He revealed and explored a vast New World of sound which had hitherto been a terra incognita of the mind. To this he added a further revolutionary dimension, forcing both musician and listener to not only consider and reconsider their respective roles, as well as their relationship to each other, but also the very nature of sound itself and the nebulous region that divides it from “music.” But above all, Cage was a tireless proselytizer of the gospel of beauty and created some of the 20th century’s most radically beautiful music. These strands are united here in this breathtaking collection from Ondine of some of the composer’s late choral music performed by the Latvian Radio Choir. As James Pritchett writes in his fine liner notes for this release, choral music would not seem an obvious fit for a composer who once proclaimed that he would devote himself to beating his head against the wall of Western harmony.”

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Deutschen Schallplattenkritik
“NOMINATION! Latvian Radio Choir's John Cage Choral Works album receives a nomination for the German critics' Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik annual prize, Jahrespreise 2022, for this year's best classical albums.”

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“"Musically, the work is equally puzzling yet appealing. To describe it as polystylistic is understatement, there is everything there from Monteverdi and Orff to klezmer, bouzki and jazz. All rubbing up cheek by jowl, the style can turn on a pin and the work has a distinct collage-like quality. There is something very 1980s about the feel to the work, the idea that a musical drama can be anything we want it to be."”

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